No chickenpox on the calendar
To immediately see naked panic in a parent’s eyes, say it loud: chickenpox.
So began my Wednesday. We learned a buddy of Oliver’s may have come down with the virus. The hysteria rose so hot and fast in my throat that I practically screamed, then quickly pulled over for a large coffee. I couldn’t deal with this uncaffeinated.
I ran through when we last saw this poor fella — let’s call him Pete — and whether we had actual contact with him. I wasn’t absolutely sure, of course, given I wasn’t on red alert for contagions back then. I mean, it’s summer. But lesson learned.
Childhood illnesses are a part of life, I know. We all have chickenpox stories. I came down with the itchy spots myself when I was 5 or 6, quickly sharing the fun with my younger sister. This happened on a weekend in which my parents had attempted — for the first time since we were born, of course — to take a couples-only trip. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) They cut it short to relieve my grandparents, who likely had us wailing in tubs of oatmeal. I can still conjure up the smell of calamine lotion.
But I don’t remember disliking the chickenpox experience, oddly. In my memory, I stayed home for days in my pajamas. There were countless times over the years Kate and I became sick together, and those weird weeks were sort of . . . fun. One or both of our parents were home, for starters. We had all the Nickelodeon we could watch, plenty of flat ginger ale, saltine crackers for every meal. We didn’t have to do math homework. To a kid, it was magic. (Minus the nausea.)
Being sick as an adult is far less exciting. Most of us still have to work, for one, which means doing all the usual projects . . . just with less energy. If we’re lucky enough to stay home, we’re probably not curled up with chicken soup. Germs spread quickly ’round these parts; our sick kids are there, too. No rest for the weary.
We’ve been through the illness wringer in our son’s first year and a half. Putting aside all the worry that comes with prematurity, we’ve dealt with croup and colds plus hand, foot and mouth virus — along with the usual rashes, mysterious bumps and teething pains.
We’ve been to the emergency room with Ollie at 1 a.m., driving around three hours later in search of food because staying up all night left us starving. We also spent five hours in urgent care last December, watching “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” on a loop until my husband and I were laughing at nothing and everything. Throw in our son’s minor surgery, recovery and ongoing follow-up appointments? Well.
Nothing is worse than seeing your child sick or in pain. I know I’ve said I’m not a germaphobe, but the tides are turning. Oliver came down with a nasty cold during our beach vacation in May, and that sickness hit the extended family within days. By the time we left for home, Spencer was sipping from a DayQuil bottle. I was next. My dad sent me a message soon after: he and Mom got it, too. So bad, in fact, that my mom missed a week of work.
Kids are germ factories, man.
But we’ve all been well for, oh, about two weeks now (I don’t count the lingering coughs; that’s just the soundtrack of our lives). I know better than to think something like that without knocking on wood, though . . . and in comes poor Pete.
Two-year-old Pete is one of Oliver’s best buddies, and that sweet kid has had his share of sickness. When word of Pete’s possible chickenpox reached us Wednesday, I ran through when we saw him last — and whether Oliver would have been trying to gnaw on his toys, steal his blanket or snatch some of his lunch.
Which: yes. Of course.
As outlined in our recent remote control battles (still a problem), anything near my son will be picked up and chewed on. Germs, germs and more germs. On the bright side? Our floors are cleaner than they’ve ever been, given the constant need to vacuum. Sometimes I have to sink down and look under the couch, trying to catch any sort of choking hazard those toddler eyes will spot before we will. Which is about as fun as trying to get back up afterward.
I spent most of Wednesday waiting for an update on Pete, driving myself crazy by Googling incubation periods for viruses and treatment options. We’re supposed to go on another drive for a family reunion in July, which would be disappointingly derailed by something like this.
He may get it, or he may not. There’s no way to know. Can’t pencil “chickenpox” into the calendar.
Just another lesson must learn.
I hate that. I